Voting in today’s New Hampshire Democratic and Republican primaries comes to a close in a couple of hours — at 6 p.m. Central, with about 20 of 319 polling locations remaining open until 7 p.m. Three tiny communities — Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield — voted at midnight and reported their results this morning. So with 65 votes counted already in New Hampshire, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Donald Trump are in a three-way tie in the Republican primary, with nine votes each. In the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 17 votes to nine, with two votes recorded for Mark Stewart Greenstein. (Who? It doesn’t matter.)
Dixville Notch (population 12, with nine votes) is the best known of New Hampshire’s early-voting tiny places, and in Dixville Notch’s Republican primary, Kasich got three votes to Trump’s two, while Sanders took all four votes in the Democratic primary. Lest you think early results in Dixville Notch are meaningless, I’ll just mention, for what it’s worth, that in every contested Republican primary since 1976, the winner of Dixville Notch has gone on to win the party’s nomination. (This streak includes two first-place ties — between Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in 1980 and between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. in 2012.) Dixville Notch’s record picking Republican nominees is better than Iowa’s. Just sayin’.
The same predictive ability fails Dixville Notch’s Democratic voters. They’ve picked the eventual Democratic nominee only about half the time over the past 40 years.
Observers will be tracking various storylines as New Hampshire’s results come in tonight, from whether Trump emerges the winner he thought he would be in Iowa, to whether Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attract enough votes to justify continuing their campaigns, to how close Clinton can come to Sanders, who’s expected to win New Hampshire’s Democratic vote easily. I’ll be following results on Twitter at @jodyseaborn.
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Just when you think Trump or some of his supporters couldn’t get any lower, he repeats a vulgar term a woman said about Cruz during a rally Monday night in New Hampshire. If you don’t know already what Trump said and must find out, you can follow this link or you can find it readily elsewhere online. But Trump’s vulgar remark, or rather his repetition of a supporter’s vulgar remark, doesn’t interest me as much as the subject that prompted the vulgarity.
Trump has defended waterboarding throughout his campaign. During Saturday’s Republican debate in New Hampshire he went further, saying he would bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” to interrogate terrorism suspects. Cruz, when asked, also defended waterboarding — “It is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture,” he said — but he also said he would not bring it back “in any sort of widespread use.” So Monday night in New Hampshire, Trump was criticizing Cruz’s response to Saturday’s waterboarding question as weak and cowardly when his supporter crudely agreed. Trump repeated the woman’s remark so everyone in the audience could hear it. Then he mockingly reprimanded the woman for saying what she said.
First, Cruz is wrong. The United States considers waterboarding to be torture and that consideration goes back decades. The George W. Bush administration worked around the United States’ longstanding ban against waterboarding by euphemistically creating a category of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to excuse its use.
The CIA and supporters of the Bush administration’s interrogation methods insist they worked and allowed intelligence officials to collect information about terrorists that saved American lives. The evidence suggests otherwise. But even if you could establish beyond doubt that torture works — and if it works and saves lives, then why not do a hell of a lot worse, as Trump says he would do — questions about its legality, morality and compatibility with American values would remain.
It’s unfortunate that so many candidates in a party that likes to define itself as the defender of American morals and values trust the methods of the Spanish Inquisition, the Japanese Imperial Army, the Khmer Rouge and military dictatorships throughout the world more than the values and laws of the United States.